Till I come, give attention to reading,
to exhortation, to doctrine.
1 Timothy 4:13
Dictionary.com says this about the word exhortation – “an utterance, discourse, or address conveying urgent advice or recommendations”. The word used in Greek for exhortation is paraklēsis and according to Vines Expository Dictionary it means something slightly different - “a calling to one’s side” (para, “beside,” and kaleo, “to call”) and so it is often translated as comfort, consolation, entreaty or encourage. So what exactly is the “gift” of exhortation and how does one use it?
Biblical exhortation means something far more than conveying urgent advice or recommendations on a particular subject. While those who have been called to teach often use the gift of exhortation in this way. They use it to expound on Scripture, “calling” on those listening to give urgent heed to what the Scriptures are instructing. But it is more than just a gift for teaching. While those who teach do use it to build and edify the church, it is also used to offer words of encouragement, consolation and comfort. So people with this gift often find themselves in the positon of counsellor, pastor, teacher, or even worship leader. They will most certainly be on the visitation committee (if your church has one) to visit those sick and in hospital. For it is their heart’s desire, their passion, to come alongside members of the church body to lend an ear, offer a word of encouragement or advice, and instruct, using Scripture and bringing comfort where it is needed most. Those with the gift of exhortation then, are the “glue” that holds the body of Christ together when it is faltering.
I have a dear friend who, at age seventy-four, seems to have an endless amount of energy, in which she utilizes her gift of exhortation and she does it in several ways. Always the first to lend a hand (or an ear) to those in need, she flits here and there throughout her day visiting friends and family, encouraging and comforting them in their faith. She teaches ESL, and leads a weekly bible study for those ESL students. She loves to “exhort” from the Scriptures. If you are in hospital you can expect a visit that will most certainly brighten your day, her words often leave one feeling comforted. If you are down, she makes it her goal to “build you up” another aspect of the gift of exhortation. On most days, she pushes back her exhaustion because, as she puts it, “I have so many things to do”. In reality, she only has one class a week that she has made a commitment to teach, all the rest she does out of the passion that drives her – her gift of exhortation. She also has the gifts of hospitality, encouragement and helps, which complement her gift of exhortation and make her one of the best friends you could ever hope to have. But she cannot slow down and I think if she was forced to she would be miserable. For she loves to teach from the Word of God and she loves to encourage and comfort everyone she meets in their faith. At our church if you took a poll and asked the ladies who their best friend in the church was – I have no doubt they would all say, “Carol”. For that is how she makes you feel, like you are her best friend – encouraged, comforted, edified and built up in the Lord – rightly making use of her gift of exhortation.
If you find that you love to teach from the Word of God and you seem to have a knack for comforting and encouraging others, you probably have the gift of exhortation!
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